Osun Government Says It is Open to Engagement with Civil Society Groups, Caution Against Political Partisanship.
Governor Ademola Adeleke and his entire team are open to engagement with civil society organisations for the common good of the state even as the administration cautions against political partisanship using civil society activism as a cover.
Responding to a press briefing by a group named Masterminds, the Governor canvassed for impartial criticism of government as the right of citizens but noted that a politically coloured statements will draw similar response from the administration, noting that if a civil group play political game, the response will also be political.
The government cited as an example the Masterminds' commendation of the state government on enrolment of pensioners which it said was laced with political colouration, positing that the policy of enroling pensioners did not exist under any previous government in Osun state.
Because of political bias, the group could not stop at commendation but had to tell stories about which administration founded or nurtured the health insurance agency.
Is the issue about who established the agency or which administration launched the health cover for pensioners?
Before responding to the many issues raised by the group, let us invite its operatives and other civil society groups in Osun state to avail themselves of the Freedom of Information Act which makes it mandatory for government agencies to provide information as may be requested by members of the public.
Information about budgets, expenditure and other data related to public finance can be accessed legally and within the bounds of the law by interested members of the public. The rules and procedures are clearly spelt out.
This administration is committed to open governance and information access especially when such efforts are not politicized or designed to score political points.
On the multi-billion Infrastructure Plan, the Governor had during Ipade Imole stated that the sources of funding include savings from revenue leakages, enhanced internally generated revenue, federal infrastructure intervention, federal refunds among others.
For the avoidance of doubt, Mr Governor made it clear that he will not borrow in any way to fund the plan, that funding of the infra plan will not affect workers' welfare and that the state will not be fiscally endangered as was the case in the past administration.
As to the question of how the Governor plans to fund the 2024 budget and if the infra plan is captured in the new budget proposal, we ask the group and other organisations to attend budget hearing sessions at the State Assembly to access the funding plans and the details of the budgetary provisions. The hearings are ongoing.
On the N10 billion naira supplementary budget and what it contains, we urged the group to access the approved supplementary budget either through the House of Assembly or the State Ministry of Budget and Economic Development. It is a public document.
Supplementary budgeting is not in anyway an abberation and such Appropriation Acts are public documents which interested parties can seek just like the 2.1 trillion naira supplementary budget just approved by the National Assembly for President Bola Tinubu
On the alleged removal of the Chief Judge, we want to set the records straight that Governor Ademola Adeleke had only written the Chief Justice of Nigeria who is the chairman of the National Judicial Council forwarding the resolution of the House of Assembly and recommending the most senior judicial officer for appointment in acting capacity depending on the final decision of the NJC.
By conveying the House resolution to the NJC and by merely recommending for NJC action an acting capacity appointment, Governor Adeleke has proved and acted within the confines of law and in recognition of the powers and responsibility of the NJC.
On the appointment of Barrister Hashim, we challenged the group to point out any legal provisions violated as Governor Adeleke is mostly fixated on competency and legality in his appointment decisions
On alleged stifling of funding to Osun State University, we call the attention of the group and the public to the public confession of the Vice Chancellor of the University to the unprecedented capital projects and overhead funding support for the university from the state government. The video indeed went viral.
We find it curious that the group finds it convenient to ignore the completion of several abandoned projects at the university by the current administration which led to the Vice Chancellor confessing that the current government has done more than any government in the state for the university.
If not for political bias, we expect the group to list university projects initiated and others completed by the Adeleke administration instead of focussing on overhead financing adjustments which even the university management accepted is compensated for by the huge capital funding support the university is getting from the state government.
As much as this administration is ready for dynamic engagement, it is also not our duty to spoon feed civil society groups as research is an integral part of advocacy and activism. For example, attending public hearings and accessing public documents are crucial responsibilities of genuine civil society groups.
We urge civil society groups to step out as genuine partners in state development by playing their parts in the advocacy and stakeholding process and by avoiding parroting opposition party's talking points.